Questions of Order: Confederation and the Making of Modern Canada
Published: December 2020© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 226 Pages
Dimensions: 5.90 x 8.90
226 Pages, 5.90 x 8.90 x 0.90 in
What happened on 1 July 1867? Over 150 years after Canadian Confederation, it seems like a question with an obvious answer. Questions of Order argues that Confederation was not just a political deal struck by politicians in 1867, but a process of reconfiguring political concepts and the basis of political association.
Breaking new ground, Questions of Order argues that Confederation was an imperial event that generated new questions, concerns, and ideas about the future of political order in the British Empire and the world. It traces how for many public writers in English Canada, Confederation became an important basis for reimagining political order in the empire and redefining basic political concepts. To some, it marked a clear step in the larger project of imperial federation or even the ultimate union of the English-speaking world. For others, however, it represented the certain fragmentation of the empire into sovereign "national" states.
Set in the context of a time of enormous social and cultural change, when so many long-held assumptions and firmly believed truths were faltering in the wave of new scientific and philosophical beliefs, the creation of Canada forced writers and public thinkers to grapple with the nature of political association and attempt to find new answers to critical questions of order.
Introduction: "A Time of Iconoclasm": Confederation and Transformations in Political Thought
1. An Age of Nation Making: Nation, State, and the Question of Canada’s Future
2. Cultivating a Constitution: Defining the Legal Foundations of Political Community
3. Making Up the People: Ideas of Common Peoplehood and Citizenship
4. Debating and Declaring Loyalty: The Evolution and Rhetorical Limits of Allegiance
5. Naturalizing Modern Political Association: Naturalization and Nationality Law Reform
Conclusion: "No Merely Passive Spectator": Canada in a Modern World
"Questions of Order is a nineteenth-century scrapbook of the land we left behind. Price is an enthusiastic chronicler. He guides readers through a time capsule of an era so different from ours Canada Day would be unrecognizable to the Fathers of Confederation."Holly Doan, Blacklock’s Reporter
"Price delivers admirably. His book is a detailed exploration of how certain individuals (mostly highly educated and articulate) wrote about this new thing called the Dominion of Canada. He does a wonderful job digging into the magazines and books that were published in the decades after Confederation; Questions of Order essentially follows a nineteenth-century version of a scholarly Twitter debate, although, as was fitting for its age, the debate was long and drawn-out."Christopher Dummitt, Trent University, Literary Review of Canada
"Price has advanced the discussion, producing a focused and readable study of the many ways that English Canadian thinkers struggled with the meaning of Confederation."Steve Penfold, University of Toronto Press, Early Canadian History
"This is a fascinating and original intellectual history of the making of Canada in the first four decades of Confederation. It breaks new ground in the understanding of nation and nationalism in Canada, a subject that some might have thought was exhausted. The result is the most interesting work of Canadian history that I’ve read in some time."Kenneth C. Dewar, Mount Saint Vincent University
"In Questions of Order, Peter Price presents modern Canada not as something that was brought into being as a fully formed nation-state in 1867, but as the end result of a decades-long process of political and identitarian discussion. By doing so, he invites historians to reconsider their assumptions about Confederation and the new Dominion. With sound and up-to-date scholarship, Price makes an excellent and original contribution to Canadian historiography."Michel Ducharme, University of British Columbia
- Short-listed - 2022 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize